Trump and Michael Cohen face off in New York fraud trial

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Michael Cohen speaks before court appearance

Former President Donald Trump will face one of his most high-profile accusers in court Tuesday, and his former attorney Michael Cohen will take the stand to testify against him in Trump’s ongoing trial. fraud trial In New York.

Cohen, who was Trump’s “fixer” for years, is a key witness against Trump in the New York civil case, as well as a separate Manhattan criminal case. In the civil case, Cohen was expected to testify about alleged communications with Trump and others over so-called financial condition statements.

Wearing a dark denim jacket and a white button-down shirt with no tie, Cohen took the stand shortly after noon, following testimony from another witness earlier in the morning. As he entered the spacious courtroom, Trump did not turn to look at him. Cohen seemed to look quickly.

The testimony of Michael Cohen

Cohen began by laying out several crimes to which he pleaded guilty in 2018. He told the court that he was a Trump employee when those crimes were committed. While some involved his own finances, he said he lied to Congress “for Trump’s direct benefit.”

Under questioning by the state’s attorney, Cohen explained that he was not part of the Trump Organization’s legal department and answered only to Trump.

“I reported and only worked for Trump. I was his special counsel,” he said. “Anything that made him angry, he would bring it to me so I could resolve it.”

At least one member of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team was present to observe Cohen’s testimony. Cohen is the star witness in the criminal case brought by Bragg’s office, which arises from an alleged payment of money paid to an adult film star before the 2020 election.

During his testimony, Trump stared at a monitor showing a live transcript of the proceedings. He rarely looked at Cohen.

The case against Trump

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Trump, his adult children and his company of using the returns to falsify the values ​​of Trump’s properties and, ultimately, Trump’s overall wealth, in order of obtaining undeserved loan terms that, in fact, increased Trump’s wealth by hundreds. of millions.

The state is demanding $250 million from the Trumps and their company – a recovery of what it calls “ill-gotten gains” – and is asking a judge to order sanctions designed to limit their ability to do business in the state. Judge Arthur Engoron has already found Trump and his co-defendants responsible for fraud. The trial continues on other allegations, including falsification of records, conspiracy and insurance fraud.

Cohen was originally expected to take the stand on October 17, but his testimony was delayed due to illness. Trump, who is not required to attend the trial, did so that day and mocked Cohen, telling reporters that Cohen “didn’t have the guts” to stand up to him.

Cohen responded to Trump in a text message to CBS News that day.

“If I was afraid of Donald, I wouldn’t have written 2 NYT bestsellers, testified before Mueller’s team, seven congressional committees, 23 appearances before the Manhattan DA, and provided information to the NYAG that is the basis of this trial. I look forward to seeing you in court very soon!” Cohen said.

Cohen testified before Congress in 2019 that Trump artificially inflated his wealth. The testimony stimulated both this civil investigation and the investigation criminal led by Bragg.

The criminal investigation resulted in the first indictment against a former president in US history. Trump pleaded not guilty in April in that case, in which he is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Trump has denied wrongdoing in both cases, as well as three others in which he is accused, alleging a coordinated effort by prosecutors aligned with his political enemies to prevent him from becoming president again. Trump seeks to return to the White House in the 2024 elections.

Trump and his lawyers and those of his co-defendants, who deny wrongdoing in the case, have derided Cohen as a flawed witness who should not be trusted because of his criminal history. Cohen entered a guilty plea in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations and tax evasion.

For years before that case, Cohen was among Trump’s most trusted employees and advisers: a “fixer” who was trusted to solve pressing problems both inside and outside the public eye.

Cohen is now a fierce adversary of Trump. He hosts a podcast that frequently focuses on Trump’s legal problems, mixed with scathing and disparaging criticism of the former president.

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